How did the conflict in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) impact family planning perspectives among survivors of sexual violence and their partners?


Examine access, knowledge, and utilization of family planning as well as attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that support and/or prevent family planning services among female survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in rural DRC.


In DRC, one-third of women want to space their births. However, in conflict-ridden eastern DRC contraceptive use is as low as 3%. This enormous, unmet need for family planning services strains already vulnerable families when economic resources are scarce and stability is tenuous. Developing effective programs to address unmet family planning need is critical for efforts to rebuild health, economic, and social supports in the DRC. At present, there is no information on how family planning within relationships is impacted by the health and social complexities of SGBV.


Mixed-methods design using 31 surveys, 31 interviews, and 8 focus groups with a sample of 70 (36 men; 35 women) community members including 11 couples. Data were collected in April and July of 2012 and analyzed using quantitative description and thematic analysis.


Analysis is ongoing. Preliminary analyses suggest poor understanding, availability, and use of family planning methods, and strong themes about the impact of poverty on desired family size and the influence of male power and intimate partner violence on family planning.


Findings suggest the war's violence continues in couples today, negatively impacting access to and use of family planning. Efforts to improve women's negotiation skills with respect to family planning and dispel myths related to certain methods are critical features of any program to improve family planning use.